Monday, December 07, 2009

Matthew 8:28–34

Matthew 8:28–34 (ESV): Jesus Heals Two Men with Demons


In the last passage, Jesus and his disciples were in a boat, and he calmed a storm. In this passage, they get to the other side to a country which is either called Gadarenes, Gergesenes, or Gerasenes (see verse 28 (ESV), including the footnotes). He meets two men who are demon-possessed (the Greek can also be rendered “oppressed by demons;” see the other footnote for verse 28 (ESV)), who come out of the tombs to meet him. The demons speak to Jesus, asking what he has to do with them, and whether he’s come to torment them before “the time” (verse 29 (ESV)). 

The text doesn’t record Jesus answering the demons, but they seem to know that he’s going to cast them out anyway. There is a herd of pigs nearby, and they beg Jesus to send them into the pigs, if he’s going to cast them out of the men. So Jesus does, and sends the demons into the pigs, which rush into the sea and drown. 

The men who had been herding the pigs rush into town and tell everyone what has happened, and when they hear of it, the townspeople come out to see Jesus and beg him to leave the region.


This same account is also told in Mark 5:1–21 (ESV) and Luke 8:26–40 (ESV). This account is different from the other two accounts, though, because in the other two accounts we are told that the demons are called “legion,” which everyone tends to remember, and also because in this passage it mentions two men, but the other passages only mention one. My guess is that one of the men was sort of the “ring leader,” and that’s why the other passages only mention him. 

Other than that, I find the interaction between the demons and Jesus to be fascinating. Especially this part:
And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” (verse 29 (ESV))
First of all, the demons obviously recognize Jesus for who he is. And secondly, they seem to be aware of a time when Jesus is going to torment them! I am very interested in passages like 1 Peter 1:10–12 (ESV), which talk about angels longing to look into the mysteries of the good news, but this doesn’t mean that they don’t know anything. These demons seem to know that a time is coming when God is going to torment them.

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